Crime and Punishment

Keeping in mind the symbolism of water as a source of purification and rebirth, what do we learn of Sivd on the last night of his life?

In many religions, water serves as a mode of cleansing sins and redeeming yourself in the eyes of God. Children are baptized with water. In India, people will crawl on their knees to holy water just for the chance of dipping themselves in this water to repent all of their sins. In his novel, Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky uses water as a mode of purification with several of his main characters. One in particular is Svid, who attempts to cleanse himself with water, and soon discovers all hope is lost.

On the night of his suicide, he hears the shot of a cannon, "a signal", he believes. He walks out of his apartment with the rain pouring down on him, covering his body. "I'll choose a great bush …millions of drops drip on ones head"(437). At this point, Svid still believes he can be saved. He soon approaches a frightened little girl of about five years of age who has run away from home, fleeing a drunk and abusive mother. He takes her back to his room and puts her up to sleep. Walking away, he notices she is now a French harlot, or prostitute. He had turned this gentle child into this monster. Waking up from this nightmare, he realizes that there couldn't possibly be any good left in him. It was there that he decides to take his life once and for all.

Once outside, the wetness begins to torment him. "The cold and damp penetrated his whole body and he began to shiver"(438). He contemplates drowning in water. This will be the ultimate way to finally cleanse himself while achieving his final goal, death. Sadly, Svid already has predetermined that nothing he can do will save himself from God. His last attempt is salvaging the runaway child from her mother, but soon that turned against him. Svid finally sees in this that any person he comes in contact with will soon demise. Anyone at all connected with Svid will eventually reduce to ruin. He now knows what can only be done. He will not allow himself to hurt anyone else. Water can't cleanse him. It was up to God.

Water is all holy and pure. Yet, it has unstoppable power. A power which will consume anyone in its path and spit them out after it is finished, leaving them with little, if any is left at all. Svid is the same way. Although not holy or pure, he does have unstoppable power which proceeded to consume many people along the path in which he conducted his life.

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